WILFRED’S GUIDE TO STOCKING YOUR BAR THIS CHRISTMAS
From fizz to mulled wine and cocktails, being merry is one of the best things about Christmas, and this year I intend to indulge in a tipple or two myself with family and friends.
But stocking your bar can be stressful for the uninitiated – and there’s a savvy way of doing it during the cost-of-living crisis.
Here, I round-up my top tips for buying bottles – and using what you already have – to see you through the festive season, one tipple at a time.
It’s time to raise the bar
Time for wine
A Christmas to remember calls for an unforgettable cellar. But it doesn’t have to break the bank. Start with something special for raising toasts – unwrapping presents on Christmas morning, seeing in midnight at New Year – with a couple of fabulous bottles of fizz. Our fresh and fruity Ca’ Di Alte from Italy is always a celebratory corker, while our Spanish Bocchoris Cava Brut NV is a refreshing alternative to prosecco, and our Champagne A. Levasseur Rue Du Sorbier Brut makes for an indulgent treat from France. You’ll also need ‘house’ pours – red and white – to serve both with and without food, and I always think sticking to the same wine for a single meal adds a professional flourish. Why not give something British a go this season? Homegrown producers are doing great things and the holidays are a chance to support them: Penruddock’s Red 2018 from Wiltshire offers a light pinot noir to pair with turkey; while the dry Estate Selection 2020 via Devon provides the perfect accompaniment to a fresh seafood starter. This year, I’m surprising my guests completely by serving a pale rosé from France with our turkey crown, as I think it’s just as wonderful in the winter as it is in the summer! A bottle or two of Château Laballe Brume 2020 will look pretty as a picture on the table and go down an absolute treat with nearest and dearest.
Penruddocke’s Red 2018 (Pinot Noir)£25.00
Ca`di Alte Prosecco£17.50
Sharpham Sparkling Blanc£34.50
Dart Valley Reserve 2018£17.85
Estate Selection 2020£19.95
MAAL Rebelion Malbec 2019£24.00
Xavier La Foundation de la Mer Cotes Du Rhone 2017£24.00
Corvers-Kauter Rheingau 2018£29.50
Loveblock Sauvignon Blanc 2021£19.00
Cheers for beer
A fridge full of beer is always a crowd-pleaser, whatever events you’re hosting, from pre-holiday parties to Christmas Day itself and New Year’s Eve. Luckily for you, I’ve got a one-stop shop, from fruity Brigg Stow 115ale to crisp Yokel Gold cider, hoppy Bristol Blonde beer to rich Resolution IPA. Spoilt for choice? I know – we’re generous that way. May I recommend a Mixed Case Taster so there’s something for everyone?
Lift their spirits
When it comes to spirits, it sounds obvious, but ask guests what they actually like before going ahead and stocking-up. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a load of waste, which nobody wants. Arguably, the most popular spirit for parties these days is gin, so you can’t go too far wrong with a decent bottle of Up Country TBF Gin, made in small batches by hand right here on home turf and bursting with fresh botanicals and citrussy flavours. A quality tonic is always the perfect match. For vodka – a star in so many concoctions – Up Country TBF Vodka provides the versatility you need and is seriously smooth and silky in the mouth. Vodka Martinis for Christmas Eve, perhaps? For a tropical twist on traditional celebrations, rum is always fun, and is billed as the next big drink behind gin! I’m biased, but my own Don Wilfred Rum will transport you to Christmas in Jamaica, and provides an easy drink for parties when mixed with lime and cola. Then, it’s all about warming digestifs when bellies are full: The Black Scotsman Single Malt Whisky with fruit aromas is sure to do the trick!
The Black Scotsman Single Malt Whisky 700ml£47.50
Up Country TBF Vodka 700ml£40.00
Up Country TBF Gin 700ml£40.00
Don Wilfred Rum 500ml£37.50
Driving home for Christmas
Remember to cater for drivers, teetotallers or simply those who are pacing themselves between drinks with smart softs and interesting mixers. These days, it doesn’t haven’t to be a boring glass of water or a children’s cordial, but a serve that makes them feel like a grown-up. My spin on a spritz, Wilfred’s Non-Alcoholic Aperitif, is just the thing for getting a party started without a sore head the next day, while a bottle of light and refreshing Square Root Lemonade looks and tastes smart in a rocks glass with plenty of ice and a slice.
Finally, this year more than ever, there’s no shame in asking loved ones to bring-their-own! Not only does it help spread the cost, but it adds variety to the mix, and stretches your supply further. Make it fun and theme it – flavoured gins or interesting rums, for example – or request everyone brings a bottle that’s been collecting dust at the back of their drinks cabinet along with an appropriate mixer to accompany. It’s a great way to have a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Blue Lagoon (made using Blue Curaçao) or a Snowball (crafted with Advocaat), anyone?
Have a very merry Christmas indeed